Calls rose sharply for the Wellington police department in 2017, according to its recently released annual report.
The number of service calls went from 5,692 in 2016 to to 6,615 last year. Chief Tim Barfield said the change is the result of Wellington’s population growth and increases in foot and vehicle traffic.
“I do think Wellington is changing,” he said. “It’s busier than it used to be. Our calls are up in almost all categories from traffic crashes to calls for assistance. It’s just a sign of the times. We’ve assisted other agencies more than we have in the past couple of years because it’s become a lot easier to communicate with each other.”
A significant jump occurred in phone calls to the police station, which went from 22,290 to 32,284.
Those numbers could be somewhat skewed because the department switched to a new phone system in 2017, Barfield said.
Responses to crashes were also up compared to 2016, going from 94 to 118, many due to an increased number of hit-skips, which jumped from three to 14.
“People fail to take responsibility for themselves,” Barfield said. “I think that’s a lesson we’ve missed in society for at least the past several years.”
The village dealt with three instances of arson last year, all lit sometime during late hours of Sept. 16 and early the following morning. The former POV/Wagner birdseed factory and two adjacent buildings on Depot Street were left in ruin while a smaller fire damaged the exterior of the police auxiliary building on Kelly Street.
On Forest Street, arsonists were unsuccessful in setting a historical residence on fire but residents noticed some damage the next day. Barfield said the investigation is moving along swiftly.
“We’re close,” he said. “More information has come out and we’ve pursued it, but we have to have everything we need to pursue the charge. We’ve been in touch with the prosecutor’s office and they think we’re going in the right direction too.”
Over the past year ,Wellington police served as honor guard for two Ohio officers who died in the line of duty, the Greater Cleveland Peace Officer Memorial candlelight vigil, and the Cleveland Indians Aug. 5 during the team’s Law Enforcement Night.
Training for Wellington police, firefighters, and South Lorain County Ambulance District personnel in dealing with post-traumatic stress has increased in recent years and will continue in 2018.
At 6 p.m. on Feb. 28, members of the three departments and their family members will hold a joint training session on PTSD at the Kelly Street fire station.
“We’ve found bodies two weeks deceased and been at countless fatal accidents,” Barfield said. “Then there’s the families who’ve lost someone to a fatal overdose. It’s usually not about one individual incident, but the cumulative effect. You can’t see that kind of pain and suffering and keep a stiff upper lip. Years and years of seeing this kind of stuff and trying to rationalize it gets to you.”
“We want to make sure our people are dealing with this in a healthy way,” he said. “If someone can sense a problem in themselves or someone, they should know they can seek help and where they can find that help.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
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